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Don't Disturb Young Wildlife


Fri May 30 00:00:00 MDT 2008

          Newborn wildlife is irresistible, and many well-meaning people are tempted to "help" when the best thing they can do is leave the young alone.

Many wild animals produce their young in May and June, and shortly after that calls begin coming into Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks offices reporting young wildlife that appear abandoned, said Kurt Cunningham of FWP's Communications and Education Division.

"Young wildlife are rarely helpless or abandoned," Cunningham said. "More often the mother is only away temporarily or is intentionally staying a short distance off to avoid attracting attention to her young."

 What should you do if you discover an apparently abandoned wild animal? Cunningham and others say emphatically, "Leave it alone."

 "If a young animal is turned into an FWP office, the standard procedure is to tell the individual that they must return it to the site where they found it," he said. "Some people are surprised to learn they are the problem not the solution. They think they are helping by removing the animal from the wild."

Cunningham said that even fledgling birds can be carefully returned to their nest, contrary to the common perception that birds will abanadon young touched by humans.

FWP should be notified if it can be established that a mother animal was killed and her young orphaned. Orphaned wildlife should only be handled by FWP.

In some cases, the lure of having an unusual pet or the dream of taming a wild creature may lead to taking an animal from the wild. This is a bad choice for the human and the animal. It is illegal to possess or remove from the wild any game animal, game bird, songbird, furbearer or bird of prey, and fines may be levied for such violations. State law also prohibits people from keeping wild animals that may have rabies such as fox, raccoons, skunks and bats.

Springtime brings new life and new hope. Be part of ensuring that this year’s wild young live out their lives in the wild.